Kargil-like war can reoccur, fears US ex-envoy

Ambassador Asad says Kashmir crisis could affect Afghan peace talks

ISLAMABAD - Kargil-like war can occur again as India had tested the pride of Pakistan by annexing held Kashmir, feared a senior US diplomat.

In an interview with John Fredericks Radio Network on ‘The John Fredericks Show,’ Anne Patterson – who remained the US envoy in Islamabad from July 2007 to October 2010 – said: “Now it looks like they (Pakistan are trying at least temporarily to find some diplomatic solution ... unsuccessfully trying to find some diplomatic solution. But yes you could see that (replay of Kargil) you could see a very aggressive element of the Pakistani military because frankly it’s a huge blow to their pride and ... and pride matters a lot in really most countries.”

The Kargil war occurred when Pervez Musharraf ruled the country in 1999. It took place between May and July that year.

Patterson said: “I don’t know if the current leader of the Pakistan military (Qamar Javed Bajwa), as well as I, knew of course the ones when I was there, so I don’t know what his personality or Musharraf was actually in charge of the special forces so yes you could see something like that happens now I think an interesting question is why did (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi do this now and there are a lot of theories out there one I which I say but I dismiss it was when President (Donald) Trump offered to intervene a few weeks back I would I think that was just sort of a throwaway but I think the more important issue is that the Indians saw that we were very close to a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan and that we’d need Pakistan’s cooperation for that and that US relations with Pakistan would probably warm considerably because of that so they decided to move now.”

Anne Patterson says diplomatic efforts so far are unsuccessful

She emphasised: “And yes this actually should be on the front page because every time it comes up these are two nuclear-armed countries obviously maybe people it’s far away so people don’t concentrate on it but it basically has been going on since 1947 since the partition of India and Pakistan and the basic issue is that the Kashmir is a Muslim majority population but it was at partition it was annexed to India because the princeling in charge was a Hindu and he basically gave it to India.”

Patterson recalled that Pakistan India had gone to war twice over this issue in 1965 in 1999 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi “basically annexed this I think that’s the right word it’s a strong word but he annexed it a few days ago and the Pakistanis are extremely upset they’re also upset I think because they’ve had a very difficult time getting inner international support for their position.”

Asked how important the Kashmir issue was to Pakistan when she was the ambassador in Islamabad, Patterson replied: “It was very important it was very important psychologically because frankly they had been supporting some of the insurgents well really for decades and it was a symbol of national pride. The other issue of course is that India is their historic enemy and as they see it and so they feel particularly boxed in by India of course in fairness is a runaway success story economically and Pakistan is lagging behind so there’s a lot of economic jealousy there too but it’s an important issue particularly for the Pakistan army.”

The senior diplomat said when she was the ambassador in Pakistan, Musharraf was there and “Musharraf was basically president he was also had more importantly head of the Pakistan military right and he had provoked one of these last encounters with India over Kashmir on the Siachin Glacier he is a very interesting guy but he finally had to step down in favour of elections and that was basically is an issue by the British and the Americans to sort of move toward a democratic solution and Benazir Bhutto came back and of course was assassinated not too long thereafter and her husband took over as president and her partyman took over as Prime Minister.”

She said there had been two democratic transitions in Pakistan “but no one should be under any illusions that the Pakistan army doesn’t play an extremely important role in the political life of Pakistan. So when we look at the annexation by the Indian government of Kashmir which was a pretty bold move by their leadership because they could have done this a long time ago we stopped short of that they suspended all the rights basically of the Kashmir people for all intents and purposes worse than almost what’s going on in Palestine I mean they just took away everything annexed it majority Hindu nation to Muslims and so I guess the fear that a lot of us have is certainly that within the Pakistan elected government you know that cooler heads prevail but then we also know that there’s tremendous influence over the government of the Pakistani military, which is very powerful both on the ground and politically and I know some of those leaders some of the military leaders.”

Patterson said President Trump was unpredictable but he was going to have all kinds of conflicting priorities here. “On his relation with Modi from everything I could see is first right and multiple administrations have reached out to India powerhouse economic powerhouse investment powerhouse but most importantly is a counterweight to China and from everything I could see the Trump’s administration has done exactly the same they’ve developed close ties with India because they see that as India is an important strategic partner for our future that doesn’t mean we don’t need relations with Pakistan too so I suspect he’ll just sort of play it cool.”

To a question, she said it was a high priority across a number of years for the United States to work with India “and when I was in Pakistan I don’t know the statistics now but there was something like 70 million Indians still without electricity so they’re you know very significant pockets of poverty still in India.”

Earlier, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Asad Majeed Khan said in an interview to the editorial board of The New York Times that Pakistan could redeploy troops from the Afghanistan border to the Kashmir frontier, a shift that could complicate American peace talks with the Taliban.

He said when Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan met last month with President Trump at the White House, the American leader said he would help mediate between Pakistan and India on Kashmir. “Trump’s offer was a sign of immense goodwill that the people of Kashmir enthusiastically applauded. The Indian government’s alarming announcement last week that it would revoke Article 370 of the Indian constitution is a slap in the face of this renewed American commitment to solve one of the world’s most dangerous and intractable conflicts. It makes plain to the world the depth of India’s arrogant indifference to the region’s peace and stability,” he said. The envoy added: “This is why it is more urgent than ever for the United States to do what it can to prevent India from precipitating another crisis.  A long and painstaking US-led reconciliation effort, which has been supported by Pakistan, has brought peace within our grasp in Afghanistan.”


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